Offshore drilling, England: at Chelsea 1, Liverpool 1

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When Roberto Di Matteo talks about Liverpool being a bogey team, he’s alluding to days like these. Chelsea dominated play for most of the match, but unable to generate enough quality chances, the home side left the game to be drawn late. When Luis Suárez headed home a Jamie Carragher flick on in the 73rd minute, Chelsea was left with one win in seven versus Liverpool, the Blues drawn 1-1 at Stamford Bridge.

The result, however, will be overshadowed by the health of John Terry. The Chelsea captain, who opened the game’s scoring in the 20th minute with his 50th career goal, left the match in the 40th minute with a major injury to his right leg. Ramires, in pursuit of Suárez, shoved the Liverpool attacker from behind, the Uruguayan falling into the front of Terry’s lower leg. Foot planted, Terry had no choice but to absorb Suárez’s weight. He immediately called for help and was eventually stretchered from the field.

Man of the Match: It’s a Liverpool match, they didn’t lose, and they scored. Odds are Luis Suárez was the game’s best player.

It wasn’t quite as obvious today as usual, but Suárez was still the Reds’ only real scoring threat. The focus of Chelsea’s defense all day, Suárez was his typical relentless self. His efforts were rewarded in the 73rd minute, Carragher’s header leaving his teammate with an open goal.

Threesome of knowledge: What we learned

Rodgers makes the right changes with his formation.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers started with a three-man defense, bringing Jamie Carragher into the team to play between Andre Wisdom and Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson pushed to wing back positions. The formation had the benefit of getting Liverpool’s best players on the field (the team’s struggled all season trying to find an attacker to join Suárez and Raheem Sterling), but with Chelsea dominating, Rodgers switched after 60 minutes.

It was worth a try, though. Based on the names on the team sheet, it was worth seeing if Johnson and Enrique could do enough to justify sacrificing an attacker and flipping the midfield (inverting its triangle). When it didn’t work, Rodgers switched, and Liverpool eventually scored.

Liverpool’s midfield needs to create more chances.

No matter the formation — 4-3-3 or 3-4-2-1 — Liverpool’s three-man midfield must generate more chances. With the team regularly dominating possession, there’s no reason not to. While the team is short of strikers (Suárez the only man on the team capable of leading the attack), the Steven Gerrard-Joe Allen-Nuri Sahin midfield is not even generating chances for the Reds’ wide attackers, let alone themselves.

On Sunday, Liverpool crafted only two through balls for Suárez and Sterling, only one of which came from the midfield (Gerrard). Despite most of the possession and 507 completed passes, Liverpool’s attack remained dormant.

Chelsea’s swoon continues.

Be talked about it mid-week after Chelsea’s performance against Shakhtar. This run has all the hallmarks from Chelsea’s annual swoon. Liverpool may be a bogey team, but Chelsea has enough talent to break that duck. Instead, they dropped to third in the Premier League.

Packaged for takeaway

  • Pepe Reina is still out, injured. After his understudy, Brad Jones, put in another decent day, there’ll be increased talk about whether the Spanish international should be sold.
  • A strong day from Eden Hazard meant the attacking trio of Hazard, Oscar, and Juan Mata performed to their normal level. Unfortunately, Chelsea got little from the other three players who could contribute to the attack. Deep midfielders Ramires and John Obi Mikel failed to contribute, while Fernando Torres continues to underperform against his former club.
  • David Luiz missed today’s game with a tonsillitis. When he returns, Chelsea will be facing a surprising depth issue in central defense. While the trio of Luiz, Gary Cahill, and Branislav Ivanovic is as good as any in the league, Ivanovic is the first choice right back. Expect Cesar Azpilicueta (who started on Sunday) to become a more permanent part of the back line’s rotation.

MLS Snapshot: POR carve up 9-man ORL, keep pace with VAN, SKC

Pete Christopher//The Oregonian via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): All of a sudden, the Western Conference has sprung to life as the 2017 regular season winds down — Vancouver Whitecaps, winners of five of their last seven games (unbeaten); Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last six following Sunday’s 3-0 victory over 10-man nine-man Orlando City SC at Providence Park; Sporting Kansas City, losers of just two of their last 15 games; Seattle Sounders, who had their 13-game unbeaten run snapped on Saturday; and Real Salt Lake, winners of four of their last five. With fewer than a handful of games remaining, Vancouver’s lead on Portland and Sporting KC remains one point after all three sides won this weekend; RSL and Seattle are separated by just three points, three points back of second and third. As for Saturday’s game, Diego Valeri is now a top-two candidate for MVP after scoring two more goals (his 19th and 20th, to go with 9 assists) against 10-man Orlando.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Valeri extends his streak, makes it 1-0 — The last time Valeri failed to score in a game, the date was July 23.

29′ — Mattocks taps it home after Asprilla’s cross — Huge credit to Diego Chara for the through ball to spring Dairon Asprilla into acres of space. The ball to Mattocks was simple, and he got it right.

59′ — Valeri gets no. 20, makes it 3-0 — Joe Bendik managed to deny Mattocks’ initial effort, but Valeri followed up when everyone in white had already quit on the play.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (15′ – PK, 59′), Mattocks (29′)

The 2 Robbies: City Sparkle, Chelsea Shine, Liverpool Hold On

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a look at some of the weekend’s biggest storylines, including Liverpool’s thrilling victory over Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur’s frantic win away to West Ham United and Manchester City’s demolition of Crystal Palace.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Ederson harbors no ill will after Mane’s personal apology

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As far as Ederson is concerned, Sadio Mane‘s studs-to-face assault is a thing of the past — save for, the elongated scar he’ll likely wear on the left side of his face for the rest of his life, of course.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Goals galore on a wild Saturday ]

The Manchester City goalkeeper, who was forced from his side’s 5-0 victory over Liverpool on Sept. 9 after his face was raked by the studs of the Reds’ star attacker, revealed this weekend that he received — and accepted — Mane’s personal apology in the days immediately thereafter — quotes from Goal.com:

“Yes, I had contact with him, he sent me a message. I told him to stay calm, those things happen inside the pitch, it could happen anytime. I told him to not worry and wished him a good season.”

“I ended up having a hard hit in the face, but in the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I felt a strong kick, but I was always conscious. I knew it had been a long cut. I wanted to keep playing but, for medical issues, I couldn’t keep playing.

“But I was always conscious, even if I had my face a little bit swollen. But after a week it was normal again. In the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I faced that game full of confidence again, without any fear and happy for the result we achieved.”

Bundesliga: Leverkusen throttle HSV; Hannover remain unbeaten

Marius Becker/dpa via AP
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BERLIN (AP) Three days after being cleared to play by FIFA, Argentine striker Lucas Alario scored one goal and set up another on his debut for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Hamburger SV 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Alario struck midway through the first half, converting a cross from Leon Bailey, who also set up Kevin Volland’s opening goal just three minutes before.

A moment of class from Julian Brandt sent Alario through with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the Argentine had the awareness to spot the better-positioned Volland to seal the win.

Alario went off moments later to warm applause from fans.

“The goal is the cream on top. He played very well, scored the goal and combined with others. He worked well coming back and his first goal wasn’t so easy to score,” Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich said.

Alario’s first appearance for Leverkusen was held up when previous club River Plate objected to his transfer through the Argentine soccer association (AFA), which denied his playing rights.

The Buenos Aires-based club contended that Alario’s transfer was invalid as Leverkusen paid his release clause of $28.6 million on Aug. 31, after the Argentine season began, which it said was against FIFA rules.

Leverkusen then took the case to FIFA, which ruled in its favor on Thursday.

Leverkusen’s second win in six games eased the pressure on new coach Herrlich after a difficult start.

Counterpart Markus Gisdol remains in need of a change in fortune, however, after four straight defeats. Hamburg next faces Werder Bremen, Mainz and Bayern Munich.


Cologne fought its way to its first point in a 0-0 draw at promoted Hannover after starting the Bundesliga with five straight defeats.

Now the last-place side hopes it can build on the point.

“The luck will come back and the chances we had today will go in,” Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said. “We’ll start winning the games again. But the precondition was this performance that we delivered today.”

Peter Stoeger’s side, which has scored only one goal all season, hasn’t netted in its last four league games. That highlighted the extent to which Cologne relied on French striker Anthony Modeste, sold in the offseason in a big-money move to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.

Modeste scored 25 Bundesliga goals for Cologne last season. His replacement, former Mainz striker Jhon Cordoba, is yet to score in six games.

“We all have to be satisfied with the draw,” said Hannover general manager Horst Heldt, whose fourth-place side remains one of three unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.

Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter remained unbeaten in 15 games across two divisions.